Comcast Really Doesn't Want Tech Blogger to Cancel His Internet Service

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Comcast Really Doesn't Want Tech Blogger to Cancel His Internet Service

South Park Time Warner Cable social

Former Editor-in-Chief of Engadget has quite the phone conversation with a Comcast "customer retention" representative.

The quality (or lack thereof) of Big Telecom customer service is a tale we've told before, but rarely do we get such an intimate look at how truly awful that service can be.

Ryan Block, who is as OG as OG can get in the tech blogging world (ran Engadget, founded gdgt),and his wife recently decided to change ISPs, going from Comcast to Astound. When his wife called Comcast to have their service disconnected, she became so frustrated that Ryan eventually had to take the phone call over.

This SoundCloud recording of his conversation with a Comcast "customer retention" representative starts ten minutes after he hops on the phone:

Block also dropped a memo on his SoundCloud page, a chunk of which is posted below:

Please note: this conversation starts about 10 minutes in -- by this point my wife and I are both completely flustered by the oppressiveness of the rep.

So! Last week my wife called to disconnect our service with Comcast after we switched to another provider (Astound). We were transferred to cancellations (aka "customer retention").

The representative (name redacted) continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone. Overhearing the conversation, I knew this would not be very fun.

What I did not know is how oppressive this conversation would be. Within just a few minutes the representative had gotten so condescending and unhelpful I felt compelled to record the speakerphone conversation on my other phone.

This recording picks up roughly 10 minutes into the call, whereby she and I have already played along and given a myriad of reasons and explanations as to why we are canceling (which is why I simply stopped answering the rep's repeated question -- it was clear the only sufficient answer was "Okay, please don't disconnect our service after all.").

Please forgive the echoing and ratcheting sound, I was screwing together some speaker wires in an empty living room!

Block finally got his service terminated, and you have to give him credit for not absolutely losing his mind on the Comcast rep. I also understand that a company will try to sway its customers from leaving, but that pitch shouldn't consume what was likely a 30 minute-plus conversation.

Have you ever ran into a customer service situation like this? Drop your horror stories in the comments.

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You just need to be assertive with the rep. I got the same treatment with Time Warner Cable. My disconnect convo lasted 5 minutes. I said something to the effect of: Per the contract, I can cancel at any time after expiration of the agreed upon fixed term. I am not required to answer your questions in order to cancel. Therefore, cancel service right now before we have a breach of contract on our hands.

Then my service was cancelled.

Really? Is this the best they can do? Once they got ya, you can't get away, you can't stop them from billing you. Next up, a voting machine that won't accept your vote unless you vote for the right party.

Lol oh my god that was the funniest soundbite i have listened to in weeks.

Arrrgggghhhh!!! Got so annoyed listening to this!

I don't think I could of not lost my mind there....

That was absolute bullshit.

Fastest internet in the US.... Buuuuuuuuuuuullshit.

Google would like a word with you mister Comcast salesman.

Whew.

I'm pretty sure I would have snapped about halfway through and started yelling, "Because almighty fucking God told me to switch ISPs, that's why!"

Other aspects aside, around the end he says something the lines of "I can save you a $100, no over 100$ in month if you continue your service".

How expensive is this stuff in the US for it to become a $100 cheaper, per month, and still be worthwhile to comcast?

This is what happens when you give companies your personal information willie nilly.

They then start aggressively seeking it, and act like Your the bad guy when you wont.

Then they make the "employment at will" laws, where they dont need a reason to fire you.

Logic

This is the reason why I quit my CSR job. I used to work for a company that outsourced its call services to various companies. The first I worked for was DirecTV, which I won't pretend I liked, but I could at least tolerate. Then it was switched to Comcast and we all had to be retrained and it became obvious that the company has no consideration for customer satisfaction. Their manual doesn't talk about customer satisfaction, they have no standards or rules for it and every call we listened in on for training purposes had a CSR who was just being an absolute jackass to the customer. Well, not every one, but 12 of the 14 calls we listened to.

So, yeah, Comcast is a horrible company.

That rep sounds like a jealous ex.

'Why are you leaving me? Just tell me why. Why are you leaving me? Why? Just say why. Why are you leaving? WHat reason could you have to leave? I was voted number 1, I'm the fastest, I could save you money! WHY!?'

Oh my god..this guy has the patience of a god. Because if that was me I would have already called him a spunk bucket about 15 times.

God this is the worst CRS rep I have ever heard, and that is coming from working for Bell Canada's "Client Solutions aka cancellation" department where I have heard and see many bad reps. Yes his job is to try to stop customers from leaving, and to find out why. I'm guessing from personal experience that if he does not try to find out why someone is leaving that is job avoidance and if corporate hears that your fired, but you do not need to spend this much time asking the same question with the same wording over and over again causing the customer to get pissed off.
I guess this is why most people don't last long in those kind of jobs though

Holy Hell give this guy a medal for not losing it 30 seconds in. I keep finding new reasons to hate Comcast everyday, and now this is joining the pile. I WISH I could switch ISP's but Comcast is the only "decent" internet provider in my area. I'm NOT joking, everyone else around here is even worse then THAT.

Jadak:
Other aspects aside, around the end he says something the lines of "I can save you a $100, no over 100$ in month if you continue your service".

How expensive is this stuff in the US for it to become a $100 cheaper, per month, and still be worthwhile to comcast?

A cable/internet/phone package bundle can cost around $300 a month from Comcast. Its fucking ridiculous, and more often then not its for bottom-tier packages. Sure the advertising may say all of that for the best speeds/quality for $99/month, but then there's a bit of EXTREMELY fine print that will say something along the lines of "offer applies for the first 6 months only" and after this period the prices DRAMATICALLY increases.

And the dumbest part is I've tried cancelling JUST my home phone, cuz with mobile phones I don't need a land line anymore, and it would cost MORE to have ONLY cable and internet.

The internet situation in the US is a fucking joke and Google Fiber, while promising, is just taking too damn long to implement.

I had something akin to this happen to me when I went from one mobile phone service to another. I eventually said to him, 'I am going to the bank to cancel the payments. I have told you in no uncertain terms that I no longer wish the service to continue. You have ten seconds to cancel the account before I hang up and consider the account closed.' He started doing pretty much what the guy in the call from the article does while I'm counting from ten to one. At one I told him, I'm hanging up and good bye. The following day on my lunch break I went to the bank and instructed them to cancel the monthly debits and not to open up an account without my express permission.

Two weeks later I got an automated call warning me that I was late paying my bill and that if I didn't pay I would be subject to a penalty charge. I rang them up the following day and asked to speak to the cancellation department, got a woman who was just as bad as the guy. I told her pretty much what I'd said to the first guy and that I'd told the bank to cancel all payments to them and I forbid them from billing me without my permission. Her reply was that I broke the contract, even though the contract is only up to the first eighteen months. This had been the third year. She insisted that didn't matter and that they would be forced to debit money from my account. I told her good luck and hung up.

The next day, I received a call from the bank telling me that they tried to debit money from my account and rang up the bank to get them to open the block, insisting that I'd given them permission to. I told them no, I didn't and to continue blocking all attempts to pay. And not even an hour after that, I got another call from the phone company in which they started warning me in no uncertain terms that they would take me to court if I didn't pay their penalty charge and resume a fresh contract. I laughed at them till they hung up. They eventually gave up calling and now and again I get the odd e-mail asking me to come back and that they miss me blah-blah-blah.

RJ Dalton:
This is the reason why I quit my CSR job. I used to work for a company that outsourced its call services to various companies. The first I worked for was DirecTV, which I won't pretend I liked, but I could at least tolerate. Then it was switched to Comcast and we all had to be retrained and it became obvious that the company has no consideration for customer satisfaction. Their manual doesn't talk about customer satisfaction, they have no standards or rules for it and every call we listened in on for training purposes had a CSR who was just being an absolute jackass to the customer. Well, not every one, but 12 of the 14 calls we listened to.

So, yeah, Comcast is a horrible company.

This is why I kinda feel back for the Comcast rep. The company has created a system that encourages and incentivizes this behavior while disregarding any sort of true customer service. The focus is on retaining customers, or more accurately, preventing cancellations by any means necessary. If I had that job and my paycheck was tied to those kind of metrics, then I'd absolutely be doing my best Glengarry Glen Ross impression on every freakin' call.

Chaos Marine:
I had something akin to this happen to me when I went from one mobile phone service to another. I eventually said to him, 'I am going to the bank to cancel the payments. I have told you in no uncertain terms that I no longer wish the service to continue. You have ten seconds to cancel the account before I hang up and consider the account closed.

If the CRS rep isn't doing what he/she should then that is when you say "Cancel my service" and then hang up because they are then required to cancel it

I wonder if he will actually get that final statement.

Oh my word, that *actually* happened? I couldn't have handled that conversation, at all.

I wonder...is it possible the comcast rep is paid by bonus/commission? If his personal wage were determined by his success in retaining customers (apparently by driving them speechless and unable to continue a conversation) then it might explain that attitude and approach.

Talk about brow beating. That rep couldn't let go.

Jadak:
Other aspects aside, around the end he says something the lines of "I can save you a $100, no over 100$ in month if you continue your service".

How expensive is this stuff in the US for it to become a $100 cheaper, per month, and still be worthwhile to comcast?

Consider this: You can be losing money giving service to somebody, or your competitor can gain money giving them service to the same person.

Although honestly, Comcast is probably making a profit anyways. But yeah, even if they're not, they're biting the bullet to help retain their monopoly.

KingsGambit:
Oh my word, that *actually* happened? I couldn't have handled that conversation, at all.

I wonder...is it possible the comcast rep is paid by bonus/commission? If his personal wage were determined by his success in retaining customers (apparently by driving them speechless and unable to continue a conversation) then it might explain that attitude and approach.

Talk about brow beating. That rep couldn't let go.

They receive bonuses for being in the top 1 or 2 quarters of reps by meeting and exceeding the targets. From where I worked you had AHT, (average handle time being talk time) Hold time, Cancellations, Fizz back (feed back), and FCR. (first call resolution meaning they don't call back within 7 days) If you meet all the goals you will probley be in the top quarter, and then you can bonus. Where I worked you could get up to a extra $1000 a month (biggest I've seen)depending on the hours worked.
I'm guessing this rep is either trash or he has too many cancellations and is trying to bring down the % to meet the target

What a time waste. He is WAY too polite with this rep, could even be accused of stringing the rep along with needless questions and refusing to cut off the rep. You have to be rude with pushy reps or they will drag it out until you quit in disgust - which still qualifies as a retention. A dose of aggressive profanity will shut him up in short order.

My grandmother canceled after the first month. She hated the price on her bill. (Which was right, actually. It had the install costs and the first month of TV and internet. Too late to tell her. I sucked for me since I waited at her house for 3 hours for the guy to show up and plug some cables together and also sucked for my sister, who lives with Grandma and wanted internet for college.) No one dares argue when you got an old woman repeating "I'm a senior citizen" on the phone.

Yeah, act senile the next time one of these people start the costumer retaining tactics. Never give in and never make any sense besides when making you point about canceling service. That's my advice.

90sgamer:
I got the same treatment with Time Warner Cable.

And, just imagine if the two companies could join their dark forces. You get bounced around between two reps trying to reel you back in, or worse two reps at the same time. Regrettably, not everyone has the willpower to say no.

Jadak:
Other aspects aside, around the end he says something the lines of "I can save you a $100, no over 100$ in month if you continue your service".

How expensive is this stuff in the US for it to become a $100 cheaper, per month, and still be worthwhile to comcast?

They might have had the full xfinity(hold on, that name makes me wanna barf *chunks fly*) service(TV, phone internet). I forgot how much it costs but I think it's over $150 a month. US ISPs treat internet access like they're giving it away in the ads, then you get the first bill after the "introductory rate" and realize they really treat it like a luxury that should be marked up worse that a Gamestop used game.

I do support for comcast, and due to disdain for the job and the company I've been looking for other work. Every time I'm turned down for another job I think more and more that I'm gonna be working there forever. I'm too broke to quit.

Nicolaus99:
A dose of aggressive profanity will shut him up in short order.

Never works. I find it just makes the Rep less willing to help

I can see where the CSR is coming from, it's common for companies to want to know why a customer is leaving so that they can try to fix the problem. The problem with the questionnaire is that it's too egotistical. It'd like McDonald's calling a customer who switched to Burger King and asking him "Why don't you want the best burgers in America anymore?" Well obviously because I'm no longer convinced that McDonald's is the best burgers anymore.[1] Don't sit here and hassle me about how "I no longer want the best burgers in America", and no, I don't care what charts you have that seem to reasonably "prove" your assertion. I just want BK now.

I can also understand the CSR rep wanting to get him to sign-up for a cheaper plan and throwing-in some bonuses. It's better to get less money than no money. Again though, he's being WAY too pushy about it. It should be a one-time question. "Do you want such-and-such discount and/or these extra throw-ins?" No. "Okay, moving on." Done and done. If the customer wants out, the customer wants out. Hassling them isn't going to make them anymore willing to come back later.

[1] And no, I don't wanna hear from the peanut gallery about which restaurant you do or don't like.

I cut dropped out of time warner cable a few months ago and it was fairly painless, not entirely painless. Kept the internet and now I just use Netflix, which saves so much damn money. Use to pay 150 a month for all that crap, now I pay like 50 bucks for just internet. Still hate time warner though, and I'm sure my experience would have been more of a hassle if I dropped them entirely.

Hairless Mammoth:

90sgamer:
I got the same treatment with Time Warner Cable.

And, just imagine if the two companies could join their dark forces. You get bounced around between two reps trying to reel you back in, or worse two reps at the same time. Regrettably, not everyone has the willpower to say no.

That's a problem I was attempting to identify. People are raised placing so much value on being nice; then they later get into the real world and find themselves victims. I think we should place more value on assertive qualities than we currently do. Do you think that rude rep has any problem getting things done if someone starts giving him the run around? Naw.

Of course, one has to be careful what they assert. The line between assertive and entitled is blurry.

Valkrex:

A cable/internet/phone package can cost around $300 a month from Comcast./

Ho
Lee
Shit

I added it up, I pay $308 per year for my phone and unlimited broadband at 20mbps, faster at low load times like the dead of night. I live in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors too, so it's not exactly networking central.

Are you guys going to whip out that picture for EVERY article you do on cable companies? :P

OT: This isn't the first time I've heard of, seen, or interacted with a customer service rep that was DESPERATE to keep a customer. Anyone remember...what was it...the AOL rep a few years back that told a customer trying to cancel their service that she was "doing him a favor" by not letting him cancel?

It...has been a few years. Those details are a bit foggy...

Wow I've never had that much of a problem dealing with customer service. Telemarketers yeah I have to be rude sometimes and just cut them off by hanging up. Kudos for him for sticking with it, can't say I blame his wife for getting so exasperated dealing with that guy. Look we know you are just doing your job but for fucks sake let it go.

Micah Weil:
Are you guys going to whip out that picture for EVERY article you do on cable companies? :P

Yes. Yes we are.
-Devin Connors, Tech Editor, Hater, and Level 9 South Park Wizard

fix-the-spade:

Valkrex:

A cable/internet/phone package can cost around $300 a month from Comcast./

Ho
Lee
Shit

I added it up, I pay $308 per year for my phone and unlimited broadband at 20mbps, faster at low load times like the dead of night. I live in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors too, so it's not exactly networking central.

Similar for me and my family, nearly $200 a month for the basic package before we switched.

Thank god we could get AT&T where we moved to back in October but even after we left their service Comcast screwed us since they messed with the wires at my current home while the previous owner was still here.

Took a week for a someone to come out here and get things sorted.

hoockhand:
They receive bonuses for being in the top 1 or 2 quarters of reps by meeting and exceeding the targets. From where I worked you had AHT, (average handle time being talk time) Hold time, Cancellations, Fizz back (feed back), and FCR. (first call resolution meaning they don't call back within 7 days) If you meet all the goals you will probley be in the top quarter, and then you can bonus. Where I worked you could get up to a extra $1000 a month (biggest I've seen)depending on the hours worked.
I'm guessing this rep is either trash or he has too many cancellations and is trying to bring down the % to meet the target

Wow, that's really amazing information, a great insight! I once worked tech support for a large UK ISP at a call centre and some of those concepts have direct parallels to our own targets, but we never had wages depending on bonuses until my last 6-12 months there (where up to 20% of wage was earned by meeting targets).

Up to $1k/month is not an insignificant amount so I think you're right. He had a target to meet with a bonus on the line, but so badly misjudged it and handled it wrong. In fairness, he was never going to retain the customer, it was a lost cause from the start but he was oblivious. Not about this specific rep, but in the bigger picture I would lay blame for this phenomenon entirely on the bonuses culture. Lose that and the problem will go away.

Zer0Saber:
I do support for comcast, and due to disdain for the job and the company I've been looking for other work. Every time I'm turned down for another job I think more and more that I'm gonna be working there forever. I'm too broke to quit.

I'm sorry to hear of that situation mate. I wish you only luck in your search. Forgive me if I overstep here, but you could consider a change of field entirely if such is the case. You may have to go down a rung in a new field but as long as the wage isn't prohibitively lower, a slightly lower wage in a different role could revitalise you. You are bound to have transferable skills which can be applied outside of Comcast support and working in a new environment, with different people and/or customers could be refreshing and lead to other opportunities you hadn't considered.

I left my job recently, albeit for different reasons. In my case it was a good job for a wonderful organisation. A decent salary, 15 weeks holiday a year and amazing people to work with. I left because I was burned out after almost a decade there and also differently, had the great luck of being able to leave without financial worries (a singularly unique situation which I absolutely appreciate few will ever have in their lives). I want to find something new and couldn't do it whilst working full time.

Sometimes change can be a good thing and I suspect you could do with a dose of change yourself. Forget the ones that turned you down; concentrate on what skills you have, what you *want* to do and aim for something closer to what you enjoy (even if it means one step back in a different field). Life is too short to waste it getting burned out for these folks. (I'm not being dramatic here, I genuinely believe that.) Get a good CV/resumé together, get it to recruitment agencies so they can do the leg work for you, emphasise your personal and professional skills and experience in a positive light and consider other fields too.

Please forgive me for any presumption on my part, I'm sorry to hear you're burned out and wish you the best of luck in finding something better.

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